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Tech we have deployed for Halloween

It started back in 2002. My wife brought home a large inflatable spider, something new for the exterior decor at Halloween. I struggled to find a way of using it that seemed appropriate.

In the end, I decided to give it context by building suitably large, lit spider web in the font yard. It spanned the gap between the house and a very tall Loblolly pine in the corner of the yard.

 

The children came in droves, and were filled with awe. They left with candy, and it was good.

Every year we try something new. We occasionally drop something that didn’t work quite as well as we hoped. This year I’d like to highlight a few things we’ve used that work very well.

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Halloween on the 3300 Block of Beauchamp

Since 2002, we’ve put a vast effort into Halloween. It started one day when Stella came home with an 8-foot, purple, inflatable spider. I could not just plop this guy down in the yard. That lacked context. So, I dyed some sisal rope and built him a home, in the form of a 20 foot tall, illuminated spider web. A nice backdrop against which to give out candy to the kiddos.

Every year we’d tweak the presentation a bit. We added fog machines and lights. More fog machines. More lights. Better fog machines. Still more lights.

We added music! Loud, but not too loud. Enough skeletons to have our own baseball team. Bigger, badder fog machines with built-in dry ice chambers!

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The Sound of Silence

For the past couple of days my office has been blissfully, almost eerily silent. Silent like I’ve not heard in several years. It’s enough to make me want some kind of background sounds, which is something that I’ve never wanted previously.

This newfound silence has been brought about by a combination of things. It cool enough outside that the door is closed. The mighty Fujitsu Halycon air conditioner is taking a much needed break. Today, it’s not so cool that I need a heater.

Most significantly, I’ve turned off the 24-port Netgear switch that serves as our network core. The other day I swapped an older 10/100 switch into service so I could clean out the old Netgear unit. Racked and untouched for along while, it was terribly dusty inside & out.

Netgear GS524T

This old Netgear GS524T has two built-in 40mm fans. They’ve been making noise forever. It’s been getting steadily worse. The 10/00 switch that I have as backup is fanless, so the familiar whine of the wee fans has been silenced for now.

In fact, according to my Netatmo Weather Station the ambient noise level in my home office is around 36 dba. That’s pretty quiet.

2019-12-10 15.11.05

Just now, staring at the approaching holidays, I don’t really want to spend on a new & much better switch, so I think I will replace the fans in the old one. It’s a $20-30 project. I’m told that folks do this routinely in the case of Ubiquiti switches. They replace the noisy stock fans with quieter fans from Noctua.

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A Story About Keeping The Wine Cool

wine coolerA few years ago my wife gave me a lovely Kenmore Elite wine cooler as a gift. This appliance lives in our kitchen, doing exactly what you’d expect. That is, until last month. Last month the cooler temperature went down to near freezing and could not be adjusted. Thirty-six degrees Fahrenheit is much too cold for wine.

Since it’s a Kenmore appliance I called the Sears appliance repair service to come service the gadget. The technician arrived and diagnosed the issue based solely upon my description of the problem. He said that controller board was faulty and should be replaced. It seemed a sensible diagnosis.

He then quoted me $130 for the part and $275 in labor to install it. With taxes, the repair was going to cost around $450. That’s not much less than the cost of a comparable, brand new wine cooler. A new cooler would have a warranty.

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Rant: If I had a time machine…

TARDISA few weeks ago I tweeted that if I had a time machine I’d travel back and ensure that the speakerphone was never invented. It’s a vile thing whose use is seldom justified. It degrades communication and damages relationships. This story is an example of how this can occur.

My tweet met with response from Doug Mohney. He noted that such an action would likely put Polycom out of business. I doubt that. I appreciate conference phones. Given the presence of a group their use is completely justified. It’s an individual using a speakerphone that makes my blood boil.

My tweet was inspired by a terrible experience on a recent conference call. The experience is worth sharing, so that you might avoid such aggravation, or worse cause someone else the same sort of outrage.

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A Year Behind The Rebel Desk

About a year ago I purchased a Rebel Desk adjustable sit/stand desk. In my now more desk-bound working life this was the first step in a plan to help me be healthier and happier in my home office.

I’ll begin with an admission of sorts; the events of my past have left me quite spoiled with respect to workspaces. Early in my career I was a television editor. Technically, an “online”editor…at a point in time when such editing suites were custom built to accommodate the technology of the day. Further, it happens that I had a hand in building and/or renovating several facilities. As a consequence, at least twice my workspaces were in fact made-to-order. Of course, that was only possible when funded by other people’s money.

In general the sit/stand desk has been a good thing. It has helped to address my tendency to fidget part-way through the day. I now have a habit of cranking the desk up for certain activities, down for others.

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